Joby Aviation, one of the leading companies in the development of air taxi services, reported that one of its prototype aircraft suffered an accident during testing.
On February 16, 2022, the company filed a report with United States Securities and Exchange Commission, providing some details about the event.
The report states that “earlier today one of its remotely piloted, experimental prototype aircraft was involved in an accident during flight testing at our remote flight test base in California. There were no injuries”.
“Safety is a core value for Joby, which is why we have been expanding our flight envelope with a remote pilot and in an uninhabited area, especially as we operate outside expected operating conditions,” the report continues.
The report did not describe what kind of damage the prototype sustained.
“Experimental flight test programs are intentionally designed to determine the limits of aircraft performance, and accidents are unfortunately a possibility. We will be supporting the relevant authorities in investigating the accident thoroughly,” Joby’s report concludes.
Joby Aviation, founded in 2009, has been developing electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles with the intention to operate an air taxi service. The first prototype flew in 2017.
In August 2021, the company announced its intention to become the first eVTOL airline, stating that the company expected to commence operations in 2024.
On February 16, 2022, the same day the accident occurred, Joby announced a partnership with ANA Holdings (ALNPY) and Toyota, in a move that is expected to result in the company starting operations in Japan.
UPDATE 18-02-2022 10:40 (UTC +3) An investigation into the event has been opened by the US National Transportation Safety Board.
Twitter users also pointed out that the aircraft seemed to have been operating beyond its limits prior to the crash. Flight tracking data shows the prototype – registered as N542AJ – making sharp turns at a speed of 240 knots (276 miles per hour / 444 kilometers per hour). According to Joby’s website, the aircraft will have a top speed of 200mph.
@jobyaviation Team was pushing the boundaries of the #eVTOL yesterday.
According to Specs JOBY S4 Top speed is 200 miles / hour.
Yesterday, They were consistently pushing the boundaries – many times it crossed 230 kt and hitting 240kt (265 – 270 miles / hour )
— Joby-Aviation-Fan (@JobyInvestor) February 17, 2022
While the company itself described the event as an accident, a notice in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) system lists the crash as “incident”, and states that “Aircraft crashed during test flight”.
Shares in Joby Aviation fell sharply after the company reported the accident and have fallen by as much as 18% since February 16, the day of the crash.